FW council passes biennial budget, hashes out grant funding

The Federal Way City Council passed its biennial budget and approved plans for more than a million dollars of grant money at a busy meeting Nov. 15.

The jam-packed meeting also saw the council approve changes to city shopping cart laws, share details on upcoming winter holiday events and appoint a new economic director, each of which are detailed in separate articles last week and this week.

The council’s money talks included holding a public hearing on, and unanimously approving, the 2023 Community Development Block Grant annual action plan (CDBG).

The CDBG is a yearly grant program from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that helps governments create housing and employment opportunities. Based on how much it received this year, the city anticipates receiving $774,863 from the grant next year.

About 20% of the amount ($155,000) would go to planning and administration, according to the city’s proposal. The city proposes putting another 15% to fund public services, including apprenticeship and employment programs and some nonprofits.

The remaining 65% would fund community economic revitalization efforts. That includes a $100,000 minor housing repair program, a $100,000 Highline business development program, $200,000 for transitional housing by FUSION and about $279,000 for renovations at the Multiservice Center’s Villa Capri housing complex.

The city will likely submit the plan to HUD in the spring or summer of 2023, depending on when they receive the funding.

Separately, councilmembers also unanimously approved the city’s proposed plan for spending American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) social services and business support funding. (The council had approved a round of $3,000,000 in funding in October for social services and another $750,000 for business support.)

Of the three million planned for social services, the plan proposed putting $800,000 toward housing stability and basic needs, $1 million toward youth programming, $200,000 to promoting financial literacy, $650,000 toward employment and education, $246,000 to fully fund the Human Services General Fund grants, $100,000 toward a nonprofit facility usage pilot and $4,000 toward community engagement and legal notices.

And the council also unanimously approved $712,000 of grant recommendations from the Human Services General Fund.

The council also adopted both the $347 million 2023-2024 budget and 2023 property tax levy, which the city and council has discussed over the last several meetings.

Councilmembers Erica Norton and Susan Honda voted against passing the 2023-2024 budget, and the motion carried 5-2. The proposed property tax levy passed unanimously.

You can read the budget for yourself at https://www.cityoffederalway.com/budget.

Also on Nov. 15, the council…

■ Took action on the Federal Way TC-3 Master Plan, which concerns the future of the valuable yet currently vacant, city-owned property east of the PAEC known as Town Center 3 (TC-3). It is made up of the old Target building and an attached parking lot. (Altogether, the 21-acre “Town Center” area includes four sections: TC-1 is the PAEC itself, TC-2 is town square park, and TC-4 is currently geared to be an expansion for the Sound Transit parking garage.)

The city’s proposal could turn the Town Center area into a something of an outdoor urban mall, featuring commercial, residential, recreational and civic uses, including hotel, office space, higher educational facilities, retail and entertainment venues. The Council voted unanimously Nov. 15 to release a “Request for Proposals,” meaning the city can now solicit proposals from developers for the TC-3 property.

■ Unanimously approved a resolution updating the city’s fee schedule.

■ Unanimously approved the proposed purchase of new security cameras for a price not to exceed $94,998.23, using funds from the IT Capital Replacement Reserve fund. Many of the city’s previous cameras from manufacturer Avigilon failed prematurely, and while they failed after their warranty expired, Avigilon agreed to a one-time discount of $19,000 for the new cameras to make up for the failed cameras. (The cameras ordinarily function well and the previous failure incident appears to be a one-off, according to the city.)

■ Proclaimed Nov. 26, 2022 as Small Businesses Saturday in Federal Way, encouraging residents to shop local.

Council members Erica Norton, Lydia Assefa-Dawson and Susan Honda joined the meeting virtually.